Let me start by saying I fully support the complete legalization of pot in the US, for adults. The war on drugs has been a huge waste of money and lives, etc. What I am interested in here is the image marijuana has in the consciousness of Americans.
Most of us have seen images from “Reefer Madness”. The movie “I love you, Alice B Toklas” was on the other night and there is a scene where some normal folks eat pot brownies and go into a kind of “Reefer Madness” frenzy. When I see news stories about pot in Colorado, they always show scruffy young men, furtively exchanging items on the street, the very image of the drug dealers we have been taught to hate and fear. The movies we saw in school back in the 70’s made pot out to be as bad or worse that heroin and coke. Our educational system has attempted to instill a fear of pot into all of us and the media has built upon the negative image, perhaps more so than any other drug.
I’ve tried the drug (gasp) and come to the conclusion that it isn’t so dangerous after all. Heck, if it were legal I might well become a pot snob, much like the rampant beer snobbery I enjoy now. That is just me though. Many people haven’t ever tried it or have tried it and it freaked them out, as it can do for first time users.
So, we have built this image of pot and pot users over decades, to the point that a realistic image of who is using it and what it does is lost in the glare of false information. A normal, non-pot user might well believe that the drug is extremely dangerous and that crazed young men might soon be roaming the streets of Denver. I think the biggest obstacle to legalization is not calcified politicians but the extreme image that most people have of the drug and I don’t see that image changing substantially.
So how is this all going to play out as the drug becomes more legal? How much of the population is going to be living in actual fear as it becomes more and more prevalent? It seems to me to be very important to change that image, not just to aide legalization but to assuage the fears of non-users who have been told over and over to run away in terror. I’m not seeing that anywhere.